By Andru McCracken

A Vancouver-based Internet Service Provider is interested in providing community-wide internet and TV to Valemount. / SUBMITTED

A small Vancouver-based Internet company wants to run a pilot project in Valemount and they are beginning with local hotels. GuestTel is an Internet Service Provider and they approached council requesting access to key village buildings to place one or two cellular base stations.

The company’s CEO Joel Burke said that they have a solution that works well in large RV parks.

“The intent of the pilot is to test the viability of providing both residential and mobile services in one service and to scale a small test zone to cover the entire town,” said Burke.

Burke said their model would work well in Valemount.

“It wouldn’t normally work well in a metro area; you don’t get the coverage,” said Burke. “In a town you can get the coverage, you could be the de facto mobility and fixed home/business account provider all in one.”

The company would offer 4G/LTE Cellular service fed by ground fibre-optic cable. All home and buildings in this area could have hi-speed broadband service terminating in regular WIFI. The LTE could be picked up on either mobile handheld or desktop routers. The subscriber’s ‘Home’ account would include the mobile service as a special mobility feature.

Burke said people tend to guard their cell phone data dearly because of the expense of overages.

“We could have unlimited data,” said Burke.

Instead of one multimillion dollar tower, Burke said that his service would use a few little boxes with a two foot antenna placed every two blocks.

“Who knows, maybe the whole town could be covered with 5 or 10 of these,” he said.

Burke said the service would be faster and have quicker upload times than ADSL.

“The geography is nice, the layout is nice, and the population is above threshold,” he said. “We’d love it to be closer [to Vancouver] but if it were closer it would be served already.”

Burke said the company is self funded and not looking at funding from the town, just access to some buildings.

“The challenges on our side is to prove it and show that it is workable and viable,” he said.

Burke said they would be open to collaborating on a tech hub that would provide faster upload and download at a particular location.

GuestTel also hopes to offer folks a television-over-internet service, which starts with 40 channels for $17.95 per month.

In advance of GuestTel Networks’ presentation to council, local manager of the Valemount Entertainment Society Michael Peters expressed some concerns about the proposal.

“I’m concerned with the Internet Protocol TV,” said Peters. “We’re very concerned with someone coming into the community with no investment, with no local employees and taking the rug out from under us.”

Burke said they may be able to distribute Valemount’s local television with a little bit of work.

Burke said the project has three phases: the first starts with hotels and 20 residents beginning at the end of February. The second phase would begin in April and would deliver the service to more residents depending on the success of phase one.

“Beyond Phase 2, GuestTel will enter in to a long term agreement wit the village covering all aspects of the operational details,” said Burke.